Hokkaido Shinkansen is now scheduled to open on 26 March 2016
- What is Hokkaido Shinkansen?
- Operating speed
- Future plan
The network presently links most major cities on the islands of Honshu and Kyushu, with services along the newly constructed extension to the northern island of Hokkaido.
The nickname bullet train is sometimes used in English for these high-speed trains.
What is Hokkaido Shinkansen?The Hokkaido Shinkansen is a Japanese high-speed shinkansen rail line constructed between Aomori Prefecture in Honshu and Hokkaido through the undersea Seikan Tunnel. Construction started in May 2005, and the initial Shin-Aomori to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto section is scheduled to open on 26 March 2016. The line to Sapporo is scheduled to open in fiscal year 2030. The line will be operated by the Hokkaido Railway Company (JR Hokkaido).
HistoryOn 1 November 2014, a ceremony was held at Kikonai Station to mark the completion of track-laying for the line between Shin-Aomori and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto.
Test-running on the Hokkaido Shinkansen tracks within Hokkaido commenced from 1 December 2014, initially at low speeds, with the speed due to be raised to the maximum of 260 km/h later during the month. Test-running was extended through the Seikan Tunnel to Oku-Tsugaru-Imabetsu in December 2014. Test-running south of Oku-Tsugaru-Imabetsu commenced on 21 April 2015, with the first train reaching Shin-Aomori Station from the north in the early hours of 24 May.
Operating speedInitially the maximum speed through the Seikan Tunnel will be 140 km/h (85 mph) due to the risk of a narrow-gauge freight train travelling in the opposite direction being derailed by the shockwave of air that moves ahead of Shinkansen trains at higher speeds in tunnels. There are approximately 50 freight trains passing through the Seikan Tunnel each day, so limiting the travel of such trains through the tunnel to times outside of Shinkansen services is not an option. Because of this and other weather-related factors cited by JR East and JR Hokkaido,
The fastest journey time between Tokyo and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto will initially be 4 hours, 2 minutes. The new section will take 61 minutes from Shin-Aomori to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto on the fastest services.
By 2018, it is proposed to allow one Shinkansen service each day to travel at 260 km/h (160 mph) by ensuring no freight trains are scheduled to travel through the tunnel at that time. To achieve the full benefit of Shinkansen trains travelling through the tunnel at 260 km/h (160 mph), other alternatives are being considered, such as a system to automatically slow Shinkansen down to 200 km/h (125 mph) when passing narrow-gauge trains, and loading freight trains onto special “Train on Train” standard-gauge trains (akin to a covered piggyback flatcar train) built to withstand the shockwaves of oncoming Shinkansen traveling at full speed. This would enable a travel time from Tokyo to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto of 3 hours and 45 minutes.
Future plansJR Hokkaido is extending the Hokkaido Shinkansen from Shin-Hakodate to Sapporo, planned to open in fiscal year 2030. Tunnelling work on the 5,265 m (17,274 ft) Murayama tunnel, situated about 18 kilometres (11 mi) north of Shin-Hakodate station is proposed to commence by March 2015, and be completed by March 2021. If Hokkaido Shinkansen services are ultimately able to be operated at speeds of up to 360 km/h (225 mph), the estimated journey time from Tokyo to Sapporo would be 5 hours and 1 minute.
With the opening of the Hokkaido Shinkansen on 26 March 2016, the section of the conventional Esashi Line running along approximately the same route between Goyokaku and Kikonai is due to be transferred from the control of JR Hokkaido to a newly established third-sector railway operating company, South Hokkaido Railway Company, becoming the Isaribi Line.
The Shinkansen is a network of high-speed railway lines in Japan operated by four Japan Railways Group companies.
The Hokkaido Shinkansen is a Japanese high-speed shinkansen rail line constructed between Aomori Prefecture in Honshu and Hokkaido through the undersea Seikan Tunnel.
On 1 November 2014, a ceremony was held at Kikonai Station to mark the completion of track-laying for the line between Shin-Aomori and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto.
the fastest journey time between Tokyo and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto will initially be 4 hours, 2 minutes.